Stuxnet Reportedly Sourced to Israel and the U.S.

News emerged today that speculation about Stuxnet having been created by either the United States or Israel to attack Iran's nuclear capabilities might have been true. The worm, which reportedly hit at least five Iranian uranium enriching plants during a 10-month period last year, might have come from either or both of the countries.

In a book excerpt published today on The New York Times Web site, Times reporter David Sanger quoted several government officials in the Bush and Obama administrations on a not-for-attribution basis.

Among the biggest revelations in Sanger's piece:

  • The Bush Administration started the planning and work on what would be dubbed by security researchers as Stuxnet. The official codename for the operation was "Olympic Games."

  • Stuxnet was never intended to get outside the Natanz plant in Iran. A programming error caused it to spread onto an engineer's laptop and then out into the wild, where security researchers noticed it in the summer of 2010.

  • The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) worked with Israel's Unit 8200 to develop the worm, which the Americans referred to as "the bug." Two imperatives drove U.S. cooperation: Israeli's deep intelligence about operations at Natanz, and ensuring Israel's full awareness of progress to dissuade them from conducting a pre-emptive strike.

  • Both presidents were closely involved in planning the development of Stuxnet (Bush) and the attacks using the code weapon (Obama).

  • Before it was deployed against Iran, "the bug" was tested on a replica of Natanz using similar centrifuges the U.S. confiscated in 2003 from Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi when he gave up his nuclear weapons program.

More information will be present in Sanger's book, "Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power," available Tuesday.

Having these facts in the open, introduces a whole new set of thorny questions, according to security experts. For example, in a comment e-mailed to reporters, Andrew Storms, director of security operations for nCircle, wrote, "This news changes everything, it opens a Pandora's box of new complications. Conspiracy theorists are going to have a field day."

As one immediate implication, he suggests opponents of the U.S. Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act will have a new line of attack.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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Reader Comments:

Mon, Jun 4, 2012 Rann Xerox

I think that the US *might* be invovled but whenever a story or a book rests on the foundation of sources that cannot be named, how can you beleive anything said? Heck, I have sources very high in the government that tell me Obama is Alien. I can't tell you who they are (if only I could, man, you would be impressed). Just trust me.

Sun, Jun 3, 2012

Our "moral authority" went out the window the moment we started torturing people. My Grandad fought the Nazi's for doing s*it like the Government is behaving exactly like them.

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 kafantaris

Only four countries had the technical know-how to develop the Flame virus: "Israel, the U.S., China and Russia." Since the virus was obviously intended for Iran, we can eliminate its friends China and Russia. This leaves only Israel and us. Having thoroughly demonized Iran, anything we do to it has become fair game. But there is nothing fair or right about taking another country's data. Certainly we would not want China or Russia taking our data and spreading it to 80 separate servers. As a leader of the world community aspiring for governance through universal fairness, we can no longer afford to follow the beaten path of expediency chosen by Israel. Doing so will not only deprive us of our moral authority, but will also squander our unique opportunity to fashion a more just and fair world.

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